Abstract: The purpose of this study was to characterize more fully the surface charge characteristics of the end-member smectite in illite-smectite (I-S) mixed-layer phases found previously in pelitic sediments of the Molasse Basin in Austria. The smectite end member was shown to have an unusually high interlayer charge (0.58). Based on earlier work on pure smectites, it was hypothesized that this high charge represents the mean of a mixture of a higher- and lower-charged smectite component intermixed with illite. To test this hypothesis, the magnitude of the interlayer charge of the smectites was evaluated using 2 different methods: alkylammonium ion orientation and K-fixation by wetting and drying.
Using 2 I-S samples of different I-S ratios, saturated with alkyammonium ions of chain lengths nc = 5–18, X-ray diffraction patterns (XRD) could be interpreted as representing a 3-component system, consisting of randomly interlayered high- and low-charged smectite and illite.
K-fixation, carried out by K-treatment and followed by 100 wetting and drying (WD) cycles, confirmed the presence of a high-charged smectite component admixed with low-charged smectite, both interlayered with illite. The wetting and drying of the K-treated samples led to interlayer collapse of the high-charged smectite component and to the production of illite layers stable against exchange with 0.1 N SrCl2. The 2 smectites occur in the ratio of about 1:1 and consist of 1 phase with an interlayer charge of about 0.76 and another phase with a normal charge of about 0.40. During diagenesis, the 2 kinds of smectite are altering simultaneously to the same end-member illite along 2 different reaction paths.